The original nine holes at Secret Harbour (“The “Links”) were unveiled in 1995 and they were joined four years later by a new front nine circuit called “The Dunes.” Laid out by Graham Marsh, the 18-hole Secret Harbour course was inaugurated with an exhibition game involving its designer, Lee Trevino and Gary Player. The facility later changed its name to Secrets and then switched its moniker back to Secret Harbour Golf Links.
Despite course marketing which talks of holes that “lie breathtakingly against the panoramic setting of the vast Indian Ocean,” the reality is that only glimpses of a rather elusive body of water can be seen through housing developments that flank either side of many fairways – not that the residential aspects of the estate seriously impinge on the course, far from it.
The loveliest hole on what's been described as an “undulating dunescape of a front nine” is the short par three 8th where an aquatic element is brought into play for the first time in the round. The green lies adjacent to a lake and the tee shot must carry all the way to a green surrounded by pot bunkers and thick grass.
On a more gently rolling back nine, the par four 5th is a real beast. The fairway is tough to find from the tee as it’s divided in the middle by an island of scrub so placement of the drive is crucial. The putting surface is surrounded by deep pot bunkers with water to the left and behind so a four on the card here is a great score.
I have played Secret Harbour twice in the past couple of months. A course that is a challenge to most golfers and enjoyable to play. The dogleg left 1st is a great way to start and requires a solid drive to give yourself a chance of getting onto the green in regulation. Each hole that follows has its little quirks and challenges. The par three 7th is well defended and the short par four 8th has the challenge of water so a good lay-up is a must.
On the back the final few holes make the course for me. The par three 17th over water is great fun and though whilst short the final hole is really enjoyable to play. Perth really does serve up some great links courses and Secret Harbour deserves its place in the Australian Top 100.
Secret Harbour GC, or Secrets as it used to be known, was designed by Graham Marsh, and opened for play in 1995 as a nine holer, and as 18 holes in 1999. The links style golf course was built as a central part of a large housing development by the sea just north of Mandurah on Western Australia's coast. Strangely, although the course is set in dunes by the Indian Ocean, the sea is not seen or heard from the course in any way.
Marsh has fashioned an interesting course through the scrub and dunes with one memorable hole toward the end of each nine negotiating water hazards (note the nines have been reversed in recent years to speed up play).
For the rest of the round the key factors are avoiding the thick bush framing the tight fairways, and missing the many strategically placed bunkers along the way. With any wind in play Secrets is a stern test of golf!
Secrets is a well designed, links style course that should be included in all golfing itineraries to the Mandurah area.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
"Secrets" (I hope the club didn't waste too much money on that marketing gumph) is not a seaside links as the former name, Secret Harbour Golf Links suggests, but is set on sand (as it would appear is most of south-western Western Australia) and some dunes 1Km from the beach. It has some parkland, some linksland and some resort course elements, but the way the ball and clubs interact with the turf, this is definitely a parkland course. Maybe with the completion of housing around the course it is more resort like than the others. The ocean views are glimpses at best.
Although a well kept and upmarket resort style, I found too many of the holes are samish with a look and feel alike. The back nine has completed massive development works and the area has most of the holes wind through a standard suburban housing development. The front nine has a little more bushland and the housing is less intrusive, making it more interesting.
The course is located in an area south of Perth known as the 'golf coast' and unfortunately for this club, in the local area I'd rank The Cut, Kennedy Bay and Meadow Springs well ahead, then this course and finally Mandurah GC. However, if you've got a week to spend around Mandurah and the golf coast, good luck to you and play them all (actually, play The Cut and Kennedy Bay twice, before playing here). Mandurah also makes a nice place to stay, especially if you're within walking distance of Oceans Bar & Grill.
3.5 gusting 4 balls for this one.
A links course in Western Australia? Yes there is 2 of them! ok so there is some water on this track.
Secret Harbour starts off fairly tame, but the middle section of the round can be more challenging.
The course is undulating and very easy to walk.
I have only hit the green of a par 5 in 2 shots once, and this occurred here at S.H.
Great holes here are the par 4 8th with water carry, and the par 3 17th again with water carry!